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PewterReport.com’s editorial staff offers its predictions as to which player will star against the Houston Texans in Thursday night’s preseason finale. Which Bucs are "picked to click" and have big games this week? Find out by reading the selections below in this Pewter Insider article.
Last year’s preseason sleeper was wide receiver Paris Warren. Although he battled back from the devastating ankle injury he suffered in the preseason finale vs. Houston last year, Warren didn't done enough to make the 53-man roster and was released on Tuesday. However, one player that has made a strong push for an active roster spot is WR Brian Clark. He spent time on Tampa Bay’s practice squad before being promoted to the active roster in December. With Joey Galloway likely to see limited action and the Bucs likely to rest several receivers, Clark should see significant playing time and be able to capitalize. Houston’s secondary ranked 25th vs. the pass last year. In Tampa Bay’s preseason finale vs. Houston in 2007, Warren hauled in seven passes for 110 yards and scored two touchdowns. Clark should have similar success vs. the Texans on Thursday night.
RB CLIFTON SMITH – Pewter Report Bucs beat writer Charlie Campbell
The diminutive, speedy running back should see a lot of playing time in the final preseason contest. Head coach Jon Gruden is going to want to protect his top running backs from injury so expect to see a heavy dose of the rookie Smith, and Kenneth Darby. Those two players have a lot on the line. Other teams are watching and whichever one finishes off the preseason strong may earn a spot on the practice squad. My money is on the rookie. Smith showed some skills as a receiver with three catches for 41 yards against Jacksonville. He also returned a kickoff for 21 yards and a punt for 11 yards. With only one carry against the Jaguars, Smith will probably get more of a look against the Texans. Between his receiving ability, returning kicks, and running the ball Smith has the capacity to have a big game in any one of those aspects. His breakaway speed could produce a big play that would get this reporter an easy win off of one play. SR holds the hot hand with two wins in a row; let’s see who he thinks will produce win number three.
CB AQIB TALIB – Pewter Report publisher Scott Reynolds
I will sheepishly accept the victory last week for Michael Bennett’s modest performance (24 yards rushing, three yards receiving) against Jacksonville. Hey, someone has to win, right? Thankfully, Bennett didn’t fumble or throw two interceptions like Earnest Graham and Jeff Garcia did, respectively. The fact that he didn’t have a turnover (thank you, instant replay!) sealed the deal for me. Here’s my rationale for this week’s Pick To Click Buccaneer. I wanted to go with a young, hungry guy that is fighting for a roster spot like Jim and Charlie did because those kind of guys usually show up in the final preseason game (see Paris Warren in 2007). I was thinking about Micheal Spurlock, who I could see return a kick for a touchdown against Houston (he had a big return against the Texans last year at Reliant Stadium prior to his record-setting return for a touchdown against Atlanta the following week). I was also thinking about Luke McCown, who flashed some skills during the Bucs’ fourth quarter rally last week after throwing his fourth quarter interception. But I’m going the unsafe route again and picking a defensive player in Talib, who has already been shamed by Jon Gruden, who told the rookie from KU that Elbert Mack was the rookie cornerback who was getting more hype in the preseason – not the team’s first-round pick. That should motivate Talib to make some splash plays. I’m predicting an interception for Talib, which would force Brian Clark or Clifton Smith to have to score to beat me. A pick-six or a scoop-and-score (thank you, Sabby Piscitelli in Week 2) would seal the deal for me and push me to three wins in the Pick To Click series. I can’t believe I picked a Jayhawk!
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